Saturday, July 04, 2009

Battlefield Heroes: Concluding Commentary

Part I
Part II

I explained in Part II how Battlefield Heroes' dual-currency system of Battlefunds (real life $$$) and Victory Points (in game $$$), was a smart system.
This is a very smart currency system in my book. It allows for the game to be supported by the fans, without destroying outsiders ability to come in and enjoy the game. Raw, real money spent does not buy any immediate advantage for a player.
To reiterate that point, players never have to spend a dime to compete. All in game weapons are purchased via Victory Points. All classes, skills, missions, and vehicles are available to everyone. A good player will never run short of Victory Points.

Now, lets move on to how the game actually plays.

First and foremost is performance. Battlefield Heroes is rock solid and has been since I first jumped into early closed beta. I am running Battlefield Heroes on Windows XP Pro 64-bit, 4 Gb RAM, a nVidia 9600 GT (overclocked), and Intel Core 2 Duo Q6600 (quad core). My rig may sound souped up, but it is average for today's PC gaming standards. I will report some results from my aging laptop when I get a chance to set it up.

Second to performance is solid game play. Battlefield Heroes' focus on unique classes and abilities makes for a very fun game. All of the abilities are useful in some manor and the balance has been tweaked non-stop since I've started playing. The balance isn't perfect, but its now to a point where the glaring problems are gone (burning bullets I'm looking at you). The icing on the cake is the fact that AT ANY TIME A CHARACTER'S SKILLS CAN BE RESET FOR FREE!
Sorry, I play a lot of MMOGs that fail hard at that concept.

Next is the ease of entrance for new players and the "soft" approach to damage. Most FPS games focus on quick kills. Battlefield Heroes' approaches killing in more of an RPGish way. There is a health meter and nothing in the game outside of getting run over by a vehicle causes a one-hit kill. Various skills and weapons offer advantages/disadvantages to drain or refill that health bar. This creates a dynamic team play aspect while helping less skilled players feel like they are contributing. Plus, the damage is not a hidden number. As players score damage, numbers pop-up RPG-style on their target showing how much damage was done.

Finally, the vehicles in game have kept to the Battlefield tradition of "stupid is as stupid does". Which is to say, players don't need to be real life pilots to fly or have a valid drivers license to navigate the streets in a beep-beep Jeep (seriously, stop beeping).

With all of the positives, and my comment about a "little hate" for the game, there has to be something to deride Battlefield Heroes for, right? My major concern in beta was around the real money shop. At the time, nothing could be purchased permanently. That meant players had to pay monthly to keep their unique outfits. Fortunately, DICE/EA listened and now items can be purchased for 1-month periods or permanently.

Also of concern is the limited number of maps. There were only three maps to start, with a fourth being added recently. All of the maps are visually similar and that can be a drag coming from games like Quake Live. However, the maps are well done and quality always counts more than quantity.

Another annoying feature is the lack of a server browser. Players hit Play Now and are transported to an available game. This makes it very hard to get onto a server that is running a map the player wants to play on. On the flip side, again, this reduces the barrier of entry for new players and casual players looking for quick in'n'out sessions. Fortunately, favorite servers can be bookmarked, somewhat alleviating the problem.

Now the conclusion!

Battlefield Heroes is fun. Go play, it's free.

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